The Art of Sound at the Awesome Skid Row Garage, PA

The Art of Sound at the Awesome Skid Row Garage: As the superb name suggests, Skid Row Garage is a DIY live music venue in York, PA, and Garrett Price runs the sound. He told us all about it...

Music Connection: How long have you been running sound? How did you get into it?

Garrett Price: I’ve been involved with audio for a little less than 20 years and live sound for 15+ of those years. The shop classes in my middle and high school offered basic electronics/soldering, and I became involved with our TV studio class in high school which was my first experience with microphones, editing, and various broadcast and recording equipment.

As a teen, I went to lots of small garage and DIY shows where people would have simple like Peavy XR series amp/mixer, and a couple vocal mics. I learned the basics, like if the feedback is squeaky turn the High EQ knob down, if the room is being swelling with low end feedback… do the other knob!

In 2007 I attended the now defunct Art Institute in Nashville -- not a great school, but they did have some knowledgeable and dedicated faculty. The course was mainly studio/post production driven, but the one live sound class we had was the most fun in my time there. Did my internship at a bar back home in York, PA -- The Depot. Continued working there and other area clubs like The Chameleon Club in Lancaster.

How did you get hooked up with Skid Row Garage?

MC (Skid Row proprietor) had been doing shows in his garage for a number of years, and through attending events there and booking some shows of my own, I kinda shoehorned myself into the project.  Whenever any kind of tech support was needed, I’d swap things out. Overtime I would help him with small upgrades such as amps and cabling. At the time, I was able to procure stuff through dumpster diving or buying scrap multiconductor cabling from install sites, from my full time employer. 

Once the original location closed up, it was his intention to bring the existing PA to the new building along with some components that were donated when a local club closed up over the COVID shutdown. I jumped in to say that I could toss a system together, pay for and install it. An offer no one could refuse. I moved away from live sound and got a job assembling audio racks, building crossover networks for speakers, and other stuff, and was itching to get back into working concerts again and this was the easiest path, where I could also be fully in charge of the system and be my own boss a little bit. It can be frustrating working at a place and being like “Hey, ______ is broken, we need a new one.” Then a week later, still broken, a month later still broken, because other operational aspects eat up the money. Then it feels like your hands are tied from putting together a show where the sound is good on stage and in front of the stage.

Any particular highlights? Which bands have been the best to work with?

I enjoy working with the legacy punk acts and the unsung legends with credits what make you go “whaaaa, I had no clue that person did that?!?” When I started, I got to mix some great shows Kid Congo who played with the Cramps, the Bo-Keys who featured Charles “Skip” Pitts (of Stax recording fame and the guitar for the “Shaft Theme”).

Joe Jack Talcum from the Dead Milkmen, Lydia Lunch, and Negative Approach (who are returning to York and billed for the Skid Row 15 year anniversary this summer). With all that said, no matter who is playing, the best shows are when everyone is happy with their monitor mixes, FOH is good, and nothing got broke or was stolen.

How would you describe the acoustics/layout at Skid Row Garage?

The room itself is like an oversized tissue box, the floor in front of the stage is roughly 20’x35’, 11’ ceilings, with patch work acoustic treatment along there and walls to reduce some flutter between parallel surfaces, especially around the merch area where people congregate and need to talk and hear a little better.  Then there is the classic battle of having to have people turn amps down on stage, but if they don’t, once a few people fill in up front and act as a human baffle it cleans it up. I rarely do any overhead or hihat mics unless I’m multitracking, they tend to fill up the space just fine. Like I said, small room, currently around 160 capacity. With some changes to the building it can be increased to closer to 220.

What gear do you use?

The Main PA is a pair of Clair R4-IIIs powered by Crown MacroTechs and DSP through Clair i/o running an ancient version of Lake Controller. On stage, I have Showco/Clair SRM monitors also powered by Crown MacroTechs. I currently run an Allen and Heath QUSB for mixing. With the club being as small as it is, I was worried about occupying floorspace with a FOH booth in the back of the room, so I made the decision to go with a wireless iPad rig. For mics, I’m generally using Shure 58’s and 57’s across instruments and vocals. Drums, I use Sennheiser E904s and an E901 or Shure Beta 52 on the kick.

I also run a Soundweb Blu device running distribution for when I add speakers to the bar/patio in the future, its also hooked up to a relay supplied with constant voltage from our fire alarm system, so upon alarm activation or damage to the control line, the relay functions as a kill switch to the main PA so people can hear the alarm and make their way out of the building!

For more info, visit facebook.com/skidrowgarage